Measure empowering [Communust...] LA County Supervisors to remove elected sheriff will be on November ballot

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Leroy N. Soetoro

Aug 8, 2022, 3:43:39 PM8/8/22
The board vote was 4-1, with Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger the
lone dissenting vote.

As expected, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Aug,
2, voted to place a measure on the November ballot that would give them
the power to remove a publicly elected sheriff from office.

The board vote was 4-1, with Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger the
lone dissenting vote. The action was taken as part of the consent calendar
with no discussion.

If approved by voters, the ballot measure would give the board the
authority to remove a sheriff “for cause” on a four-fifths vote of the
five-member panel.

“Cause” is defined as “a violation of any law related to the performance
of their duties as sheriff; flagrant or repeated neglect of duties; a
misappropriation of public funds or property; willful falsification of a
relevant official statement or document; or obstruction of any
investigation into the conduct of the sheriff by the Inspector General,
Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission, or any government agency with
jurisdiction to conduct such an investigation.”

Although board members supporting the measure have denied it was political
in nature, the move is a clear response to repeated clashes with current
Sheriff Alex Villanueva.

Villanueva has repeatedly tangled with the board, accusing members of
defunding his agency at the expense of public safety, while also rebuffing
subpoenas to appear before the county’s Civilian Oversight Commission.

During the last four years, Villanueva has blocked investigations of
deputy gangs and resisted oversight into several fatal shootings by
deputies, often defying subpoenas, the board’s motion said.

A post on the sheriff’s Facebook re-election page on July 8 read: “The
people of LA would be better served if the Supervisors spent their time
doing their jobs by reducing homelessness and improving healthcare,
instead of trying to seize even more power.”

In a separate statement made last month, the sheriff said he would take
the county to court to defend his rights as a duly elected official. He
argued that “this measure will likely be ruled by the Courts to be

He called the move a way to undermine his run for re-election. In
November, Villanueva faces former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna, who
finished as the runner-up during the June primary.

In the last few years, the supervisors repeatedly passed motions to
investigate the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, including two motions in
2020 for independent reviews of the fatal deputy shooting of 18-year-old
Andres Guardado, a security guard from Gardena, who was shot five times in
the back, as shown in two independent autopsies.

Increasingly, the relationship between the sheriff and the Democrat-
dominated Board of Supervisors, who hold the Sheriff’s Department’s purse
strings, has become outright toxic.

Board Chair Holly Mitchell and Supervisor Hilda Solis introduced the
motion July 12 calling for the ballot measure. Mitchell said during the
July 12 board meeting that the issue goes beyond Villanueva.

“The issue of sheriff accountability before us is both urgent and
systemic, having impacted past generations of Angelenos, but also with
important consequences for the future,” Mitchell said. “Unfortunately, the
county has had long and troubling history with sheriff oversight and

At a previous meeting when the item was discussed, Barger said the board
action was political, not practical: “The motion appears to be more
personal than it is about the office of the sheriff,” she said.

Because Villanueva will be in a run-off election Nov. 8, having a charter
amendment granting the board power to remove the sheriff seems like bad
timing, Barger said.

“The voters will have an opportunity to speak in November through the
ballot box,” said Julie Haff, executive director of the Republican Party
of Los Angeles County on Tuesday. “I am not in favor of subverting the
will of the people.”

Title, Text of Measure
Title: Charter Amendment — Providing Authority To Remove An Elected
Sheriff For Cause

Text: Shall the measure amending the County of Los Angeles Charter to
grant the Board of Supervisors authority to remove an elected Sheriff from
office for cause, including a violation of law related to a Sheriff’s
duties, flagrant or repeated neglect of duties, misappropriation of funds,
willful falsification of documents, or obstructing an investigation, by a
four-fifths vote of the Board of Supervisors, after written notice and an
opportunity to be heard, be adopted? YES____ NO____

Votes Needed For Passage: A majority of the votes cast

Election: Nov. 8, 2022

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